Augustine: Sinner and Saint

Ron Geschwendt

READ : Romans 13:6-14

Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (v. 14 NIV)

Augustine (AD 354-430) was born with a brilliant mind. But genius is no guarantee of moral goodness. His early life, though filled with intellectual success, was dominated by lust. He later wrote in his Confessions: “I found it sweet to love and be loved in return – especially if I could enjoy the body of the person I loved. So I polluted the fresh water of friendship with the filth of lewdness and lust. But even though I was so disgustingly sinful, I was also so incredibly vain that I would act as though I was an elegant man about town” (3.1.1).

How did Augustine ever become one of the greatest theologians in the church, and a dominant influence upon Western thought (secular as well as religious) for fifteen hundred years? The answer is both simple and profound. He was converted to faith in Christ and discovered a new way of life.

Tortured with guilt, Augustine began reading in the book of Romans. Later he wrote, “I neither wished nor needed to read any more. It was as if a light of relief from all anxiety flooded into my heart. All the shadows of doubt were dispelled” (8.12.29).

Every Christian – genius or not – is first and foremost a sinner who has been made new by the mercy of God and the love of Christ.

PRAYER

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.